By Joshua Winata
The Cove Herald
The city of Copperas Cove has had some personnel shuffling in the past few months, leaving several key positions vacant.
The city has issued a position vacancy notice for the newly formed position of public information officer, who would plan and implement a comprehensive public relations program for the city of Copperas Cove. The job was created for the first time during the fiscal year 2007-08 budget process.
“It’s a position that’s been needed. We just happened to get the available funds this year for that particular position,” Interim City Manager Andrea Gardner said. “It didn’t look like initially that we were going to; we had it budgeted, and we had to remove it. When the property tax revenues came in, we saw we had the ability to add that position back in, and the council chose to do so.”
The public information officer will provide a unified voice for the city and be in charge of distributing information to the public and the press.
Internal responsibilities include keeping city employees informed on critical issues and assisting in information flow between the City Manager and the City Council.
The deadline for applications is Sept. 26, and the position scheduled to be filled by early October. Several citizens have expressed interest in the job, and two applicants have submitted materials as of Tuesday, according to Kelli Sames, the city’s human resources director.
Another key office waiting to be filled is that of city engineer, which was left empty when David Whitehead vacated the position on Aug. 31. City officials have declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding Whitehead’s departure.
The city engineer is responsible for providing office and field engineering support for public works projects and ensuring technical compliance with locally and state mandated codes.
“There will not be an interim city engineer but we are looking at our options as far as various contract engineers,” Gardner said, noting that the vacancy will not have any effect on current city projects or emergency relief efforts.
At their Sept. 10 meeting, the City Council approved contracts with three engineering firms to assist with compiling notices of intent for Federal Emergency Management Agency grants. Several other engineering contracts are expected to appear on the council meeting agendas for approval on Sept. 18 and Oct. 2.
The City Council is also expected to address the city manager’s position, which has been available since former City Manager Steve Alexander left a position in Greenville on July 20. Gardner, the city’s director of finance and assistant city manager, was appointed as an interim during a July 5 council meeting.
The city has received 32 applications of the position, Sames said. The deadline for submissions was Aug. 31.
“That position has closed, and they will be evaluating what they want to do at the next point,” Sames said.
A selection committee comprised of three councilmembers has reviewed the applications and will discuss them in executive session during upcoming council meetings.
In total, the 2007-08 fiscal year budget created three positions (including that of public information officer), changed the job titles for three positions, reclassified two positions and deleted one position. Title changes and reclassifications have no financial impact on the budget and are implemented to better reflect job duties.
One of the most notable reclassifications is the position of engineering technician to Geographic Information System technician.
The position, which reports to the city planner, develops and coordinates the the city’s GIS and collects and inputs data to enter into the system. The GIS can be used to support the police and fire departments and public works departments. The system has been used to identify leaks and main breaks and recently assisted in the search for a missing Fort Hood soldier.
While vacancies this year revolved around several key positions, personnel changes are relatively few compared to previous years. From 2003 to 2005, the city had 279 employees, which jumped to 282 during the 2005-06 fiscal year. The largest increase came the following year, when the number of city personnel soared to 291.
“That was the year that we’ve had the most new positions since I’ve been here that I recall adding,” Sames said. “This year is not near what last year was.”
Contact Joshua Winata at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 547-6481